Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Freshwater Fishing

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

Various pike tactics.

I had my first two serious pike trips this week. I say 'serious' but in fact they were really recces for future fishing as I have to catch some tagged (and untagged) pike from my local river for research into their breeding habits (see Freshwater page 161).

Both days were cold but bright and sunny. The river was dropping after heavy rain and so it was quite low with just a tinge of colour - more or less perfect piking conditions I thought. Anyway, the idea was to locate a few fish for future reference so I didn't mind too much whether I actually caught them or not. On the first afternoon I decided to try spinning so that I could cover a fair bit of water and, with this in mind, I tied on a six inch silver spoon armed with one tail treble. On my third cast I had a good take and I was in. the fish battled quite well but, at six or seven pounds, it was no match for the tackle and was soon landed. I was a bit disturbed to see that, despite its modest size, it had managed to engulf the big spoon and the treble hook was well inside its mouth. I took a couple of pictures and with my pliers I managed to unhook it without causing any damage but I decided that, if the fish were going to be greedy, a rethink of tactics was required.

I rooted in the lure box and opted to try a big 'Slandra' that I'd made for bass fishing but been a bit reluctant to try because of its size. It had a single hook, about 1/3 of the way back, so the chance of deep hooking any takers was small. I replaced the spoon and lobbed the soft plastic lure out into mid-river just for a try. It wiggled beautifully about a foot under the surface so I was confident that it would work.

In a bankside slack about twenty metres above where I caught the first fish I had a bite. I saw the fish clearly as it lunged towards the lure - perhaps four pounds I decided. A couple of casts later into the same spot (hoping for it to take again) a much bigger pike swung out from the bank, yanked the line and failed to hook itself - bother! (or words to that effect). No further takes so I moved on downstream to another decent sized pool - very shallow and weedy under the prevailing low flows. Nothing at all in the shallow water then, just as I was thinking of moving on, I hooked a small pike (again just a few pounds) in the deeper water at the tail of the pool. As I played it I picked up the net with my left hand and then began to remove the camera from the bag. The fish thrashed at the surface and came off. Never mind eh! On the very next cast, once more into the spot where I'd just hooked fish, a bigger pike grabbed the lure and was firmly hooked. Phew! This time there was no mistake and after a few strong runs I had it in the net. A few pictures and back it went. That was more or less it for the afternoon and I went on to get my tea.

The following day was an electric fishing day so my chances of catching pike by angling with all the disturbance going on were greatly reduced. I watched the fishing team with interest as they caught some of the fish I'd missed the day before - fascinating stuff! This time I was wobbling a deadbait on a circle hook and by hurrying on ahead of the fishing team I managed a couple of jacks - but that was all.

Before packing in I caught myself a dace and trudged upstream a mile-and-a-half to the only stretch that hadn't been electric fished. It was perhaps twenty biteless minutes before I swung the dace into a slack beside a submerged willow. I was behind a screen of tall reeds and had to rest one foot on an old rotten tree stump to be able to reach over them. The bait had scarcely settled when the cork shot away, I tightened and was into a decent fish. Now I had to fetch the net (ten yards away) so I flicked the bale arm off and backed up until I could reach it. By now the fish was tired so I slipped the net under it and lifted it ashore. I slipped the circle hook out of the scissors and took a couple of pictures before putting it back. Anyway after all that, I should be fairly well briefed next time I have to catch a few fish for Marina's studies.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -

My first.

It's in the net!


slide it up the bank to remove the spoon.

Spoon fed.

Now it's clear how deeply it had taken my spoon.

One for the Slandra.

The slow wriggle which has proved so seductive for bass clearly works for pike too.

Well hooked.

The big hook had done its job but the pike had 'blown' the lure right up the trace.

The next day.

this was the best one I caught on a dace the following day.  Nicely jaw hooked but the hook's on the other side.

Smile please.

I'm still fiddling with the time delay on my camera.  The trouble is that I don't want to keep the fish for too long so I only get one shot. Hence the painful crouched position.